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Real Life

Meet the twin brothers who were diagnosed with testicular cancer just days apart

How these incredible twins both beat cancer.

By Brigid Auchettl
They're the words you never want to hear – "Your child has cancer."
But for mum Lesley Collard, it's the reality she's had to live with twice over when her twins Sean and Ryan were diagnosed with testicular cancer just 20 days apart.
"I was heartbroken, I really did not know how I would cope," Lesley tells Woman's Day. "I was just in disbelief... 
I had always said throughout my life that I was so lucky to have two fit and healthy boys and never worried about them."
Used to aches and pains from years of sport, Ryan, then 23, says he wasn't alarmed when his back pain became severe, chalking it up to long days on his feet as a primary school teacher.
But in September 2017, when he started losing feeling 
in his right side, and fainting, he knew something wasn't right.
"I was dropping my brother off at work when I noticed that the right side of my body had gone limp. The next time, I passed out," says Ryan.
"At its worst point I was going numb up to 10 times a day and passing out regularly. No one could tell me what was wrong. They assumed it was two separate issues – a neurological one and a muscular one."
On leaving a doctor's appointment, with mum Lesley by his side, Ryan once again collapsed in the street.
Terrified, Lesley, 53, called an ambulance and after several hours in hospital, Ryan was finally diagnosed with stage four testicular cancer.
The non-identical 
twins have always been very close. (Image: Supplied)
"They decided to run scans on him and that's when they saw all the tumours," Lesley explains.
Heartbroken by his diagnosis, Ryan was shocked to discover his cancer had spread to his groin, stomach and lungs.
"I was the fittest I'd ever been... I had followed all of the 'lifestyle rules' you need to avoid getting cancer, yet here 
I was," he says. "I couldn't believe I had cancer at 23."
It was during a visit to his brother's bedside that Sean, 26, noticed his left testicle had become swollen, and almost doubled in size overnight.
Not wanting to worry his family further, he didn't tell anyone and decided to go for a check-up with his local GP.
Mum Lesley and dad Roy are happy 
to see their kids fit and healthy again. (Image: Supplied)
"They believed it was an infection but sent me for an ultrasound for peace of mind, because my twin had just been diagnosed," says Sean.
But just a few days later, 
he too was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
"I had just been through everything with my twin 
a matter of weeks earlier. 
It was difficult," says Sean.
"I knew I had to call my family and give them more devastating news."
Sean was rushed into surgery a week later to remove the stage two cancerous growth before undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy for nine weeks.
The brothers were always by each other's side. (Image: Supplied)
Battling hair loss, extreme fatigue and weight gain, Sean says he found the strength to keep fighting because of his twin and the special bond 
they share.
"My main motivation was Ryan – he was so strong during his treatment," he says. "He did everything he could to help me, even when he was fighting his own battles."
Adds Ryan, "It was a unique experience battling something like this together – it brings you closer than ever before."
Ryan ended up undergoing eight months of gruelling radiation and chemotherapy on the 12cm tumour in his stomach and the 7cm tumour in his groin.
He also had a stem cell transplant and a final operation to remove the remaining tumours in July 2018.
The twins are using their experiences to educate others. (Image: Movember)
After a difficult 12 months, 
the twins were delighted when they were told they were both 
in remission two years ago.
Today, they are working 
hard to bring male cancers 
into the spotlight.
The pair have co-founded online platform Cancer Lads, offering support and advice 
to men going through cancer.
This year they've partnered with men's charity Movember to educate others about their cancer journey.
"It's so important for everyone to share their story to raise awareness," says Sean, who recently welcomed a baby boy, Lucas, with his partner Sophie.
"Truly, an early diagnosis is the key to saving lives."
To find out how you can 
donate to Movember visit 
au.movember.com

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